Friday, May 2, 2014

News Reports Concord Levy Aimed to Offset Shortfall

From the Goshen News:

Voters within the boundaries of Concord Community Schools will approve or deny a property tax increase referendum Tuesday.

In January, the Concord Board of School Trustees approved putting a general fund operating referendum for the primary election on the ballot for $0.405 per $100 of net assessed value of homes to raise money to benefit Concord students.

According to Superintendent Wayne Stubbs, the corporation has faced a combined loss of $10 million to funds supported by local property taxes during the past five years, with another $4.2 million in additional losses this year.

The reason, Stubb explains, is a Constitutional amendment for tax caps that was approved by Indiana voters in 2008. The amendment capped Indiana property taxes at 1 percent for residential properties, 2 percent for rental and agricultural properties and 3 percent for commercial properties.

If Tuesday’s referendum is approved, Stubbs said, the financial impact on residents would be minimal.
“So for a person who has a $100,000 home, after their deductions, mortgage exemptions, etc., that comes out to about an $11 a month increase they’d be seeing, or about the cost of a pizza each month,” Stubbs said. “And again, this is not to build anymore buildings, add on to any buildings... this is basically operational costs needed to be able to maintain our existing buildings moving forward.”

The superintendent has met with more than 800 people of all age groups and attended 60 different meetings to present the facts about the referendum.

“I have talked with staff, retirees and people from neighborhoods,” Stubbs said. “What I hear the most is that Concord (Community Schools) is the center of our community. People are connected with the schools.”
A group of local parents and patrons got together in support of the referendum. They formed the committee “Yes For Concord Kids.” According to the committee, Concord ranks eighth statewide in the percentage of lost local revenue out of 292 school districts. The school corporation has grown by 600 students, or 12 percent of the school population since 2005.

“I greatly respect the grassroots group. They have been phenomenal in their time and effort,” Stubbs said. “It couldn’t have been done without them. The amount of support has been amazing. I have lived in this community for 32 years. This is my ninth year as superintendent. I have lived in the Concord community. I know faces and names now after all this time (because of the referendum) This has been my opportunity to get to know them and for them to get to know me.”

Stubbs says he has met with individuals opposing the referendum.

“I respect the ‘no’ people and those not interested in the tax increase,” the superintendent said. “I have met with groups who have concerns. There is a lack of understanding and I want to make sure the facts are accurate. People have the right to form their own opinion and I respect that.”

The superintendent says the additional tax levy will bring in just under $4 million in additional funding for the school corporation each year, or about $28 million over the course of the levy’s seven-year lifespan should the voters approve the referendum.

“Getting approved would allow us to be able to get back to square one with our funds that we currently have,” Stubbs said. “What we’re having to do now is take dollars from our state tuition-supported fund, which is supposed to go toward classroom instruction, and use those funds to cover the losses we’re seeing in our other funds.”